Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the "How'd You Do That?!" Files

Photo by Ewa Skowska
We caught up with Misha Schmiedecke, the Props Designer from Dashing Through the Snow to ask about that incredible plate of chili cheese fries that Raynerd brings out in the last scene.  As a devoted connoisseur of all things chili, cheese, and fried, we thought this plate looked good enough to eat.

ACT: So Misha - How did you do that?!

Misha: I have designed the props for three plays in a row since Honky Tonk Angels.  But with all the plays I've done, this is my first time making fake food.

ACT: What materials did you use?

Misha: I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like but I was stumped about what material to use for fries until I read somewhere online about memory foam.  It worked perfect.  It was cheap and easy to cut.  I angled the edges and cut them all different lengths and arranged the fries on the plate using glue to hold them down so I could spray paint the whole thing.  The top of the mound and the inside of the mound are big blocks of foam to fill the space.

ACT: Are those real beans?

Photo by Ewa Skowska
Misha: Yes! Dried kidney beans! The chili was totally improvised. I bought a can of Hormel chili as inspiration and I pretty much tried to replicate the look from that.  I thought glue and paint would be the way to go, and then I added dry rice and dry kidney beans for texture.  Two failed mixings of glue and paint later, I finally got the right color and consistency.  I spooned on the mixture to the top and then strategically spooned it so it looked like it was flowing down the fries.  My husband shook his head at me when he found me studying the mound of chili and fries and saw that I was hand placing kidney beans and grains of rice.  He asked "How far away is the audience?"  I told him about 15 feet from the first row.  Then he asked "How long are the fries going to be on stage?"  I said, ".....about 30 seconds."  He proceeded to tell me that no one was going to notice my extra kidney bean placement. But I couldn't help myself.  I wanted them to look as real as possible!

ACT: And the cheese?

Misha:  I started with paint and glue again but that didn't really work.  It kept disappearing and being soaked up by the chili and the foam.  I wanted it to be really cheesy looking and it was coming out almost clear.  After the first layer dried I mixed up just paint (no glue) to match the color and touched it up by hand.  It needed about 4 or 5 more touch ups before the cheese color was saturated enough.  Spray gloss finished the whole thing off.

ACT: I don't know that I want to eat this anymore.

Misha: No, but as Raynerd would say, "BEHOLD! I bring you tidings of great joy!  The chili cheese fries are done!"

ACT: Are you a chili cheese fry lover?

Misha: I tend to hold the chili - but there's nothing like nacho cheese!  It's one of my favorite food groups.  Goes good on ANYTHING!!

Cast List for "Chicago" Announced

We're thrilled to have seen so many talented folks out for auditions for Chicago.  We think we could have cast this show about 8 times over!

Chicago opens February 17, 2012 -

Rachelle Roberts is VELMA KELLY

Liz Newchurch is ROXIE HART
Andre Ellerby is BILLY FLYNN
Janet Oliver is MAMA MORTON
James Meador is AMOS HART
Ruth Butler is MARY SUNSHINE

MALE CHORUS: Jacob Walas, Jonathan Milner, Brad Mercier, Alan Malpass Lyle Laney, Luke Dotson, Matt Harper 

FEMALE CHORUS: Fleming Lomax, Jessica Hutchman, Rachel Gordon, Maddison Harris, Shannon Phillips

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Backstage with Betsy at "Dashing Through the Snow"

Betsy let us into the dressing room backstage to see how she transforms into TWO different characters in Dashing Through the Snow. Two absolutely hilarious characters, we might add!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Opening Night Caption Contest!

"Spirit as in "Angel," not whiskey for the eggnog!"


Congratulations to Micah Mackenzie!  See you tonight at the show!

* * * 
Submit a caption for the photo above in the comments section below by 3:00 pm EST and be entered to win 2 tickets for Opening Night of Dashing Through the Snow!  That's tonight! Yay!

The winning caption will be chosen by a panel of staff and volunteers at ACT, and the winner will be notified by 3:30 pm.

Let the captioning begin!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Pins and Needles: Notes from the Costume Shop

Guest post from costumer Deborah Austin

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go backstage, in the wings, and on the Mainstage at Asheville Community Theatre, but the holidays arrived in the costume shop in mid-October. ACT’s next show, Dashing Through the Snow, calls for an elf, an angel, Mrs. Santa Claus, and three characters from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. There is also a last-minute Christmas Eve wedding party of bride and bridesmaids and an innkeeper with an amazing wardrobe of holiday sweaters.

Set in the 1980s in a Christmas themed bed and breakfast in Tinsel, Texas, the opportunities for over-the-top outfits and hair styles are unlimited. The unit set is decked out with every imaginable Christmas ornament, wreath, and stocking in the traditional holiday shades of red and green.

I usually try to fashion a complementary color scheme to work with the set and lighting designers’ palettes, creating a picture of colors and textures woven together for each “look” of the show. (Not in Tinsel, Texas.) The goal of the costume crew has been to create the loudest, brightest collection of colors that scream “Tacky!” when set against the cardinal red and holly greens of the B&B reservation desk and living room. Think plum, lime green, orange, purple, pink, rust, and yellow. Oh yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … that is, Christmas in Tinsel, Texas!

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Saturdays at ACT" - Bring your families to the theatre tomorrow!

We're so excited to be welcoming Bright Star Touring Theatre back to ACT on Saturday, November 12. They're bringing two shows in - Sadie's Spectacular Saturday at 10:00 am and Maximus Mars at 11:30 am.

These shows are just terrific. The stories are so funny and the costumes are so fabulous that it's just a bonus that the underlying message of the show is so helpful. David mentioned in the article that he hoped the shows would spark conversation between parents and children. As a mom who has seen Sadie's with my 4 year old, I can say that they absolutely do. It's so very handy to have an easily understandable story to reference when we talk about treating people with respect, or not hurting feelings with our words, or being inclusive rather than exclusive.

The other great thing about these shows? The price. $5 tickets for everyone. It's an inexpensive way to do something special together as a family. It introduces your kids to live theatre, which is such a gift. And guess what? These are kids' shows - we know your 3 year old is not going to sit completely still and quiet for 45 minutes. But these professional actors know how to handle a crowd of this age group - and you'll be surprised how engaged your child will be!

Hope you'll join us - we'd love to see you tomorrow at the theatre!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Back in Blogging

Hi everyone! We've been out of the blogging game for awhile now, but we're excited to be back! Check here often for behind-the-scenes videos, spotlights on cast members, volunteers, and anyone else we can nail down for a photo and a quick interview, and interesting "did you know" type stuff. For instance, underneath the 100% recycled set for Dashing Through the Snow are the paint treatments from: A Christmas Story, Guys and Dolls, Arsenic, Dixie, Big Bang, Rent, Little Shop, I Hate Hamlet, Cuckoo's Nest, and Hallelujah Girls.

Stick with us - there's lots more to come!

Behind the Scenes at 'Night, Mother in 35below

We caught up with director Jeff Catanese and co-star Cary Nichols before opening night. Here's what they had to say about this incredible drama:

Readers Theatre Showcase: A Delicate Balance

The Autumn Players brings Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance to life.  This study of an American family is part of the 2011-12 season of the Readers Theatre Showcase series and is directed by Anita Chapman. A Delicate Balance will be performed November 18-19 at 35below and November 20 at the Reuter Center on the campus of UNCA. All performances are at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $5 at the door.